Elder Giles

Elder Giles
Mission Photos

Sunday, November 30, 2014

He`s There.

Hello friends and family!!

 This week has been a good one! We got to head into the mission home for a
trainer/trainee conference with President W and he gave us Thanksgiving
lunch! It was awesome! Looks like I`m going to be getting another transfer
here in Takatsuki with Elder P. Its going to be great. Things are
really starting to look up and I`m excited I`ll have the chance now to play
the Angel Gabriel in the upcoming Christmas Pageant! Needless to say I`m
excited to be here for another one.

 This last week was a good one. We got a lot of things done and were able
to get some teaching opportunities in there. It was great. We even found a
guy up at a park that was about to go on a hike and he invited us to go
with him! We got a great look at Settsukyo Koen and the surrounding city
from the top of the mountains. We told him what we were doing and why we
came to Japan and even though he`s not that interested in the Gospel right
now, we`ve got our foot in the door for sure. His name was M S and
he was a great guy.

 We`re teaching a guy from Illinois right now and things went awesome with
him last week. We focused the whole lesson on just sharing our testimonies
as well as the member that came with us. Things went great. We challenged
him to start reading the Book of Mormon again and to mark, just like we
are, the names and titles of the Savior. He agreed and we`ll follow up on
it this week. The guy will make a great member of the church. It was pretty
funny because he brought out his `Mormon File` when we were there and it
was full of articles and all sorts of things on the church. He`s definitely
studied a lot and claims to be a very spiritual man.

 I had an amazing experience with prayer this last week. I`ve had a lot of
issues with sicknesses of all kinds this last transfer and I`ve been having
some stomach problems for the last 10 days or so. I was getting a little
nervous and with the stress that comes from living in an apartment with 4
Elders of all different colors, I was feeling a little helpless. I decided
I would kneel and pray out loud somewhere I could be secluded and alone
(the closet in the backroom). I prayed and it felt so much like a
conversation. I explained that I was scared something more might be wrong
with my body, that I wasn`t really sure what I was supposed to do as a
missionary right now and that I was just plain tired spiritually. I felt
prompted to ask if he was listening. The first time I did the smallest of
feelings came. I could feel it even though it was the smallest of small
feelings deep down. I asked again out loud, `Father, can you hear me?` and
when I asked that, the full force of what I can only describe as the powers
of Heaven and the love of our Eternal Father. It was amazing, you guys.
I`ve never felt it like that. He`s there. It brought me to tears and
eventually to weeping. He lives! I know it! He knows where each of the
elect are in our area right now. He could lead us to them at any time he
wanted, but he loves us a little more than that. How do I know he loves me?
He makes me do hard things. I know that`s true.

 The weather is finally going to take a turn south for the winter this
week with a chance of snow tomorrow. It looks like the cold his finally
here to stay in the land of sushi and rice! We expect nothing short of
miracles this week. I`m excited to see what happens! I know this is true.
I`ll say it over and over again because I know just that. Its true! I love
it! By the way I`m in Mosiah 5 so you`ve all got some catching up to do! I
love you all!

Elder Giles

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The flickering light

My beloved family and friends,

  Another week down and again, I`m losing my sense of time out here. It goes so fast. I blink and its Wednesday morning, blink again and we`re at Sports Night on Saturday, one more time and its Preparation Day again. Time goes by and I think I get older every day. It`s just nice being somewhere I know I`m making a difference, no matter how small that difference is. 

  I`ve learned a powerful lesson on following promptings from the Lord. We were biking home last night, actually we were going to visit a former investigator first, and then head back. As we were biking through town I noticed an apartment complex with a flickering light. I thought to myself that it was a little strange, but I brushed off the feeling that we should go check it out. I turned at the last moment wanting to show my full trust in the Lord. My companion and I prayed and we both felt like we should tract the floor with the flickering light. We started housing but to no avail. No one was interested. I tried to make each door approach something a little different and a little more powerful than the last. As we went along I found myself doubting a little bit. I felt that we weren`t actually going to find anyone there. As we went along we knocked on a particular door, A 307, to be exact. I introduced us and asked if we could share a message about our Heavenly Father and the purpose of life. He said he didn`t really have time right then so I asked if we could visit some other time (being persistent). He said he was pretty busy, but Sunday`s were his day off. I asked if we could come back and visit the following Sunday and he declined again. I asked the guy if he might share with me what his name was and he told us he wasn`t going to give his name to someone he didn`t know. I promptly responded with a self introduction of my own, which he basically responded to with, `I don`t care who you are.` I tried to tell him that our message is of great importance and it would bless his life and he quickly spat back with `I`m sorry, I have a life.` to which I immaturely responded with, `I have a life, too.` I didn`t feel good at all about it. On the way home my companion asked if I was okay. I told him I was fine and that I recognized what the Lord was trying to teach me. I needed to learn how to keep my emotions in check in the face of adversary.  We`re not confronted with a lot here in Japan, but it was definitely a good lesson to learn anyway. Even though I`m almost a year and a half out, the Lord still teaches me every day. Thats another thing Elder P and I talked about after that incident, we`re never done learning. Learning is a principle of Eternity. There is no Eternity without learning. Interesting isn`t it? Now I understand why the Brethren exhort us so much to obtain as much education as possible while on the Earth. It`ll be a nice headstart on the other side. I know I was supposed to follow that prompting. I know the Lord is there and he knows and loves each of us.

  We had the chance to go up to Kyoto twice last week, once for Preparation Day fun and another for Zone Conference. I love it in Kyoto. At Zone Conference we had a special gift from Sister W. The previous week they were touring Kyoto with all the Mission Presidents and wives from the Asia North Area and she managed to get a copy of `Meet the Mormons` from the Area President! It was so cool! So our mission is now probably the only one in the world that has seen it. It was super cool. It`s funny because the last three movies I`ve seen are, `Meet the Mormons`, `Ephraims Rescue`, and `The Testaments` in Japanese. Oh the life of a missionary. 

  Thank you all so much for your continuing love and support. I love you all! I know the church is true. It has been in every part of my life, even when I didn`t think it mattered all that much. I know Christ lives and he is at the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I love you all so much! Have a great week!

Elder Jeffrey Maxwell Giles

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Goals and Accountability

Hello friends and family!

  I went back to the doctor on Thursday and it looks like I`m back to normal! The kidney stones have made their exit and I`m back to about 90% (still dealing with a cold). I`m so thankful for all of your prayers and the love and support though. Kidney stones are definitely one of the worst things I`ve had to go through, but the Lord lifted and carried me for sure!
  My District Leader, Elder H, gave me the chance to teach a little bit of our District Meeting on Friday which was an awesome experience! I chose to teach a little bit about goal setting and accountability. In preparation for it I was reading a little bit from one of Elder Richard G. Scotts` book, 21 Principles. I think its the third principle when he talks about something like `in order to reach a goal never before attained, you must do something never before done.` I`ve based my life off of that, but in that chapter he talks a lot about how creativity and goals are related. It made me think about my own goals and the goals I need to set and how creative they are. I feel like everyone basically has the same goals right now as a mission, personal goals that is. I feel like we can all be a little bit more creative. For example I set a goal to do 10,000 push ups and 25,000 crunches by the end of my mission. Thats 42 push ups a day and 104 crunches! You better believe I`ll be working toward that. I made some really effective proselyting and language goals as well that have been really really awesome. Actually as an apartment, myself, Elder H, Elder A and Elder P, last night set the goal for each of us to do a 100 push ups a day this week! It`s going to be awesome. With the Book of Mormon I committed myself to finish it TWICE by the set date of February 28, 2015. I calculated that I have to read 10 pages a day and it will happen. That has been an awesome goal and I`m actually able to apply more of what I`m learning from the Book of Mormon into my days. As far as accountability goes its all pretty much summed up in D&C 58 26:33. We are to do many things of our own free will and choice and to account to the Lord on those actions always! I think I learned more from preparing and teaching this part of District Meeting than the District did though. Its been an awesome week. I think in the past when I used to think about goals I would get a little nervous at the thought of having to stretch and grow. Its amazing how a mission can change a mind and prepare someone that much more for the future. I`ve found as well that if we`re constantly trying to work towards something like a goal, anything uninteresting or boring is erased. Sometimes, after a few hours of getting rejected on the streets or in an apartment, it gets pretty lame, but if you always have a goal in the back of your mind, you`re that much more motivated to get out and DO! There`s a video that was shown to us by one of the other Elders in the apartment a few weeks ago that I believe really applies to just about whatever we want to do in life. I`m sure its pretty popular in the States, but if you haven`t seen it, look up `Welcome to the Grind` on youtube. 
  Fam, I`m doing awesome. In setting my goals this week I had to figure out exactly how many days I have left as a missionary. This really kind of sucked, but it put into perspective just how much time, or lack there of, I have left in the service of the Lord. Its something like 276 days. Ahhhh. Holy cow my mission has gone so fast. I love it. I want to do this forever. I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I know Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God. I know with 100% surety that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I love missionary work. I love being in Takatsuki and working with the amazing people I get to work with here. I love you all. Thank you all again for all of your prayers and thoughts. It means so so much! Have a great week!

Elder Jeffrey Maxwell Giles

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Teach Johnny Music

Friends and Fam,

  This week started out in a really interesting fashion. So last Monday I was on an exchange with my District Leader that lasted until Tueday night. It was the greatest. Working with Elder H is always the best. We laugh (a lot) we cry (like kids) and I think I learn more than I ever have before in my life. We had to go to a Ward Picnic in this way beautiful park called Banpaku Koen and it was probably one of the most beautiful places I`ve been on my mission. I guess it hosted the World Expo or something like that in 1970 and they`ve kept it up in tip top shape ever since then. It was so beautiful and I was so glad for the chance to unwind a little and enjoy a little bit of Japan. The picnic was a blast and we played a really funny game of duck duck goose. I didn`t know that was only an American thing because no one knew that we were talking about when they asked us for an idea for a game (trust me you run out of ideas for games over a year into your mission). It was great to see both young and old, parents and kids, playing a hilarious, and quite intense, game of Duck Duck Goose.
  Our companion exchange ended with one of the most spiritual times of my life. We like to have an exchange review at the end of the exchange and I`m pretty sure ours would have gone all night if it wasn`t for a follow up with one of the Sisters. One of the greatest lessons I learned from that didn`t come from anything Elder H said, but it came from a letter he received from his Mother while he was in the MTC almost two years ago. That lesson is the subject of this email, `Teach Johnny Music`. Teaching is the way the material is presented. It represents the questions asked and the actual hands on involvement from the teacher with the student. Johnny is the student. He`s the one being taught. And Music is the actual material, or the lesson being shared. Now if we look at it from a gospel perspective, `Teach` refers to the skills of the teacher. They way and manner the teacher (or missionary) is able to share the material he has to teach. `Johnny` is the investigator (student). He`s the one receiving everything and entering into a whole new world. And `Music` is the gospel, or the actual message and gospel truths themselves. Now the question is this, which one is the most important? Is it the actual manner of teaching? Is it Johnny? Or is it simply the message being conveyed. The answer is Johnny. The most important thing is the person being taught. It doesn`t matter how good of a teacher you are, or how well the message is conveyed or even how good the message is, its all about the person being taught. That ended up being the mission theme of Elder H`s older brother`s mission when he was an Assistant in the Australia Perth Mission. I absolutely loved that. The people are whats important! Nothing else! If every missionary and member could understand that perfectly, the Lords work would touch the lives of many, many people. 

  As a mission we received a challenge from President W to finish the Book of Mormon by February 28th. We were all provided with a brand new, clean paperback copy of the BofM and challenged to take three different colors and mark, 1) All references to Christ and his name 2) Anything said by Christ or people quoting him and 3) Anything to do with his attributes. If you want the exact details just look in the back of PMG chapter 5 under Mission President, it`s right there. My challenge to all of you is to do the same thing! I`m in 1 Nephi 18 right now and I plan on reading it twice by February 28, 2015! I love the Book of Mormon and I know it is true! It is of God and it was translated through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I love this work, I love being a trainer, and I love being a missionary! I love you all!

Elder Giles

We found a pretty sweet cemetery!

We`re signing up for Quiditch at BYU, Fall 2015.

Sister M teaches me ballet after English class.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Why hast thou forsaken me?

Friends and Family,

  My kidneys still hurt. Nothing has changed there, but I`m able to work and function just fine so it really isn`t that bad. I`ll share an experience from early Sunday morning that had a really big influence on my life. 

  So I went back to the doctor last week and the doctor was really confused because the medicine wasn`t able to break up the stones at all. He said it was a little worrisome and thought it might be a bigger problem with my kidneys. I`ve been going back and forth with the mission doctor as well up in Tokyo and he asked me to send him my CT scan from a few weeks ago so I`m sending that up to him tomorrow. Basically I`ve been feeling pretty much 100% but early Sunday morning was a really rough one. I woke up about three or four o`clock in the morning with pretty intense pain. I knew I had to do something about it so I grabbed the pain killers the doctor gave me and my water bottle and went into the other room, away from where my companion and the other missionaries were sleeping. Everything hurt in my body and I pretty much fell on my knees when I got to the room. It hurt to lay down, sit down, and stand and the only position where I could get any relief was on my knees. I was still in and out of consciousness because it was so early, but I distinctly remember being on my knees and having this overcoming feeling that this was like my own personal suffering in the Garden. I don`t mean to even try to compare what I`m going through with what the Savior went through in Gethsemane. I was on my knees and I asked Heavenly Father, `Why hast thou forsaken me?` It hurt so much. They say that kidney stones are  comparable to child birth. I don`t know, all I know is it hurt. I begged my Father in Heaven to take the pain from me. I just wanted it to be done. I had the strongest feeling of love as well. When it says in the New Testament that an Angel came down to strengthen the Savior in the midst of his pain, I felt something I know was similar. Someone was there to comfort me. Through an impression I remembered that I hadn`t taken the pain killers and I needed to do so in order to get relief. I took them and noticed that I was shivering from the cold of the hard wood floor. I put my sweatshirt on used another one as a pillow and the next thing I remember is waking up about five or five thirty in the morning and thinking I probably shouldn`t sleep there on the floor and that I should go climb back in to my futon. When the alarm went off at 6:25 I told my District Leader what had happened and he said that he thought I should go back to sleep and let Sister W know I was in some pain. I told him I`d be fine and that I was capable to work that day. I emailed Sister W and let her know what was going on. She basically told me to just do what I felt comfortable doing and that her and President were so so so sorry that this was happening. I`m so grateful to have such a loving Mission President and Mission Mom. I went on through the Sabbath with a little pain every now and then, but I was able to work just fine.

  I`m so grateful for a loving Savior and for the chance to be made perfect through him. I know he lives. Our Father in Heaven knows us all perfectly. He knows what we`re going through and how to help us. I love this Gospel. I can`t imagine going through life without the knowledge I have of a loving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 

  I love you all so much! I`m just fine and I can feel your love every day. Thank you so much for supporting me. I love you guys. Have a great week!

Elder Giles